Cabinet Displays--What do YOU want to see and know?

live_wire_oakOctober 3, 2012

I'm embarking on a new venture with a new company that's never carried cabinets before. It's exciting, and challenging, because I get to design all of the displays. There will be 4 lines of cabinets, progressing from budget builder grade through a complete custom line.

Bearing in mind that no one has an unlimited budget, even showrooms, please tell me what you'd like to see in a showroom if you walked in the door.

New design trends? Old faithfuls? Universal access? Islands? "Invisible" interior featurs? Corner solutions? What would make you say, "wow, isn't that great!"

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I don't think I have ever seen corner solutions in a showroom, so that would be GREAT! Ok, maybe at Pohlen pohl, but not regular cabinet places.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:44AM
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For me, it was the design elements that were most helpful to see. Many people I think are like me when they start out in showrooms in that they have no idea/vision for their space, so they look for inspiration. I don't think I once actually opened a cabinet in the showroom-- the interior solutions weren't even on my radar until later on in the process. I narrowed down my selection of cabinet vendor based on whether their displays in general were in line with my taste.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Inside corner solutions would be great.

I've always longed for display that had vertical tray dividers above the fridge, but never found one.

An example of roll-shelves in a pantry v. a pull-out pantry.

An island display with a 39" and/or 42" aisle beside it would be a nice way to show shoppers what minimum clearance feels like.

30", 36" and 42" upper cabinets in the same display would give a nice side-by-side way for people to try reaching at different heights.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:04PM
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As stated by others, I think the corner cabinets and pullouts (example, spice and trash) were the most fascinating to me because I had never really seen such things. But maybe I'm weird because I actually planned my kitchen around the corner solution I wanted. I'm really guessing though that few people would be willing to pay like $700 for a Rev-A-Shelf blind corner solution without seeing how fantastic it is.

I would definitely do soft-close, lots of drawers, trash and spice pullout and a cool corner on at least one of the displays. Basically, you could call one of the displays the "GardenWeb display" and put all those things that people have no idea they wanted in their kitchen until they got on GardenWeb! Make that one super functional and then perhaps do the others on looks alone.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:02PM
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I would definitely do examples of both old faithfuls and new trends. Each has its appeals and walk-ins who are at the very beginning of their journey probably don't know which way they'd like to go yet. Some won't be aware of new trends and will say, "Oh, wow!" Others will see new trends and discover that they really prefer old faithful.

I would also make sure that both upper and lower corner solutions are on display. For those who've given it some thought, a physical example is very helpful. For beginner-beginners, it will get them thinking. Pull out trash and spice features are worth doing for the same reasons. A pantry with lower section roll-outs is always a winner.

Given that space and cash are limited, I might not do a full access option for display, but I would do aging-in-place friendly like a raised DW. At least one island and one peninsula option would also be good. Some people just can't see how their kitchen would look with one of those unless they can actually see it.

And the thing you already know: great backsplashes and cabinet hardware. Along with a good sink and faucet, these are items which really help a customer "see" your goods in their house, even if you aren't selling those particular items to them. I would err on the conservative side with these as an in-your-face-excitement-laden tile just takes away from attention you want focused on the cabinetry you're trying to sell. Lighting is, of course, essential. I saw a showroom or two where pieces of it were in deep shadow. Major turn-off as is runway lighting inviting a 747 to land there.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:44PM
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I would suggest various ways to finish off the toe kick area of base cabinets as well as finishing details on islands. Whether its wainscot panel, flush toe kick with baseboard molding applied, recessed toe kick on the side of the base, extended stile down on the front, etc. etc....

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Space might not permit, but things like with/without.
Soft closers. Bottom cabinets vs. drawers. Corner cabinets vs. actually useful ones, uppers and lowers. Why one would want xxx. Toe kick items is brilliant.

How fun.
Oh - could you show how one could mix less expensive parts of one line with more expensive items? Perhaps with color variations or something? That in itself would show people that nothing is written in stone and you can help them build the kitchen [simper] of their dreams with less restriction and possibly less money.

How fun for you!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:01PM
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What a great opportunity. You must be pretty excited. How about different edge details on the countertops and a variety of top surfaces rather than just granite?

Definitely recommend installing drawer units, with some pans and things included with the displays to show potential buyers just how useful and handy they really are.

Oh and some glass doors, with a few different glass styles, seeded vs. reeded vs. old-style, muntins, no muntins, etc.

My favorite display place has yardsticks available and I found that very handy for measuring aisleways and such to see what they really felt like. I thought that was a neat plus, even though maybe it doesn't relate directly to the cabinets. Sounds a bit corny, but the sticks had the store's name, addy and info on it, and shoppers could take them home. Nice little gimmick.

How about a bench seat, if you have the space? It's nice to see how a banquette can be made. I think more people are looking for mudroom ideas these days, too, so some cabinets in this direction might be helpful.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Ah, I was going to say the same thing about measuring marks. Also, one shop I went to had a set of standard dishes and pots/pans so you could see how they'd fit better in say, a drawer vs. something else. They also had cereal boxes, etc. It helps to see what fits where for a lot of people.

Honestly, kitchen showrooms ARE NOT catering to the kitchen obsessed. As evidenced by 97% of the kitchens I've seen, most people operate on looks rather than function.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Honestly, the request for information that I most often get about any kitchen vignette is about price. "How much did this display cost?" is always one of the first questions asked. I know it's difficult to answer because of the million variables that go into it, and you don't want to give someone sticker shock without being there to explain it more fully, but if there was any way that you could do a "progressive" display, where you take a 24" base and upper and go from the most basic choice in the middle of a run with no finished sides to all the way through having a 24" pot and pan drawer with an integral door finished side and a fancy glass tall cabinet above, well that would at least give people the idea of some type of costs for their wants.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Thanks for the ideas. I had already thought of having a "yardstick wall" showing the different height cabinets and how that works with ceiling heights, but the aisle widths would be good to add too.

I'd really like to do some type of information about costs, but that is so involved that I'm not sure that the information can be conveyed accurately if I'm not there. This is a one designer cabinet showroom, and I'm it. However, since the showroom carries other items than cabinets, there will be traffic through when I'm not there. I don't want to not have people come back through either sticker shock or incorrectly conveyed information from a co-worker.

What would you think about some type of spreadsheet or table using GD's idea that could be emailed to you if you wanted more information? I could put in writing all of the variables that go into pricing, hopefully without being overwhelming someone with too much information.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:52PM
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Since you'll have four cabinet lines, perhaps you could do four separate roomettes (is that even a word?) and label them for your customers as good, better, best, and custom. Beginners will at least be able to browse in one or two budget levels even if you're not there to explain in greater detail.

In addition to the different height cabs, you might show the differences in 15, 16, 17, and 18 inch clearances between counters and uppers. For the custom room, I'd suggest you do at least one area with the 30 inch deep counters to help your custom customers visualize that added feature. Perhaps also a baking center in this display.

If you are also going to be a granite and other surface connection, then I'd show both polished and honed surfaces, and how they look with undercab lighting.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:29PM
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I also think price info is very important, particularly with a bit of a breakdown if you include lots of extras like pullouts. Considering how impossible it is to pull a kinda/sorta estimate out of the air for what any cabinet suite would cost in a particular kitchen, at least it may give prospective customers some idea if they are even in the right showroom.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Since you have a few displays, you can show a lot! Here a things I looked at when shopping recently, especially after doing some online research.

-framed vs frameless (made more sense when I could see it)
-full vs partial overlay
-raised vs inset panel doors (hard to see in online pics in some cases), and also what inset door looks like (then I realized my bedroom set and new upstairs vanity were inset!)

When we met with the cabinet guy to discuss specifics of the line we are using, I was surprised at what his display could show us:
-the different drawer constructions available, one stack had one of each construction in it
-3 vs 4 drawer stack and size drawers in each
-roll outs
-pull out unit

And my favorite thing is the sample chip box. The few lines I saw with those out to look at had me stopped for a long time! I love being able to flip through the finish options and wood options, it gives a nice feeling of being able to find the look you want.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:09PM
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Clever functional features in nice soft close drawers.. This always attract me at IKEA.
A kitchen stocked with filled cupboards, so you can see how the dishes would fit in a drawer etc.
Different countertop surfaces- honed marble, soapstone, quartz, granite, chasers tone, stainless etc..
Trash cans, compost bins,

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:03AM
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try to display at least one of every cabinet configuration and size, and show all the cabinet accessories somewhere. Include lots of optional goodies like toekick and interior lighting, cabinet inserts, 170-degree hinges, and attractive and functional pulls.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:19AM
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As above but add a pull out pantry.
I struggled with my cabinet colors from the chips and had to make a decision. Went back to kitchen shop (really a giant hardware store in a small town) and bumped into a display with Autumn Cherry with a Back Glaze - and said perfect. I did run back home to verify - so some color options are great.
White Kitchen cabs in one run
And since I fell for the glaze - add some glaze in there.
Good luck on your endeavor

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:26AM
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For me, pricing is an essential part of shopping (and the most frustrating part of kitchen shopping). I have come to know how complicated cabinetry pricing can be, but the consumers need some kind of price point to begin comparisons. I believe showrooms need to simplify basic information that can help point the consumer in the right direction.

When I was shopping, I would have liked to see a simple price tag shown on each displayed door style that indicated the cost of a standard size base cabinet, with no bells and whistles (pull outs, etc.), using the displayed style. For example, I would like to easily see that an inset painted maple door in a base cabinet costs $xxx while a stained and glazed cherry door with full overlay costs $xxx. If the line offered an upgrade to all plywood, I would like to see what the displayed door style would cost in an all plywood, standard size base cabinet. Of course, every display would use the same standard size, perhaps a 24" base. Or another idea would be to have one large display and then indicate the price of the display kitchen. Then for every door style, price out the cabinetry cost if it was used in the display kitchen, with all the bells and whistles shown in the display. Of course, an educated consumer would appreciate seeing the display kitchen / door style priced for each painted inset, painted overlay, stained inset, stained overlay, etc.

There was a thread a few months back that showed this type of pricing, brand by brand, and I think it was very useful for comparison shopping (can anyone link to this thread? I can't find it.). To me, it is not acceptable to have to spend hours working with an in store kitchen designer only to find out that the cabinetry line is above budget. Granted, budgets often creep as people (me included) have unrealistic price ranges in mind, but consumers need to know some basic information to compare apples to apples. I have NEVER seen a showroom provide simple price info and for the life of me I cannot understand why KD are so willing to spend time on a design / layout when all the consumer really wants is some pricing information. It is such a waste of everyone's time.

Aside from pricing, in one showroom, I appreciated that there were a few large displays, but also more simple displays where a single base cabinet was shown with the matching upper cabinet hung above it, and several brands, finishes, cabinetry styles were lined up for easy comparison. I thought it gave a better visual perception than a stack of doors hanging on a wall. For these smaller displays, the small display counters were removable so that consumers can really see the construction of the cabinets and compare brand to brand, basic to upgraded construction, inset to full overlay to partial overlay, and stained vs. stained and glazed, etc. I thought it allowed the sale people to really sell their products because consumers can actually see the differences in the cabinetry lines and upgraded construction.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:32AM
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I'm with dilly and others who mention showing prices. I realize that there are myriad options that can affect the cost, so the more that can be shown will help. I'm one of those people who initially wants to get a rough idea of overall cost, whether it's even remotely in my ballpark. It helps me to know if a particular setup runs $10K or $40K. I understand that adding things or upgrading adds to the cost. That old saying about if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it is real for many of us. If I don't see any pricing I think maybe I'm just in the wrong store.

Ironically, my KD works in a store that has no cabinet pricing in evidence and so I always thought it was out of my league. When I took the plunge and spent time with her, she came up with numbers that I could afford. I would have taken the plunge a lot sooner if I'd known that.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:58AM
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I agree with showing isle width, and corner solutions. Actually any drawer insert to see in person would be helpful and make me more likely to order it!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:45PM
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One of the most helpful things for us was to see cross sections of the cabinets in different lines, so we could see and better understand the difference in construction - which parts were wood vs. plywood vs. particle board vs. laminate. We had sales people try to explain this to us, but I was never positive that I understood their industry-specific terminology.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:07PM
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LWO- one thing I've done that you might find useful is fake blind corner cabinets to allow display of another corner option- i.e. have a windwo seat display and cabinet on one side is something like 48", double doors, and is against wall (both doors open left) Put a Hafele Lemans in it- folks understand the make believe blind right away since it is up against a wall. Had done this with a Rev-A-Shelf at a prior employment but was in the middle of the wall and not as effective. Never seems to be enough corners in a showroom.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions! I've actually gotten a space plan of where the cabinetry will be in the showroom now and I'm running into space limitations as the first obstacle. I want to incorporate as many suggestions from you as I possibly can, but the main thing I'm sensing here is that you want to be exposed to options for things your don't understand or don't know exists. Like how to work with a 9' ceiling to get the "cabinets to the ceiling" look with the different options to do so. And how to handle moldings in different ways. And corners. And drawers.

I'm letting the main vignettes percolate in the back of my mind now, but I think the first thing I'm going to design is the "progressive" wall. It will be along the path to the bathroom and across from the coffee service counter. In other words, well traveled, but hidden. I'm going to start with a builder grade 15" W base and 30" H wall cabinet with unfinished sides like it was in the middle of a run, and then go through several options in the different lines until I get to the custom line's 15" 4 drawer stack with integral panel side for the lower and some form of stacked cabinetry with glass and an integral paneled side for the upper. I'm choosing 15" because it's only a 10' wall, and that will at least let me show 8 different cabinets there. I could do 12", but when you get to glass cabinets, 12" is just a pretty small amount of glass.

The owner basically told me he wants "timeless" displays, as he's putting a lot of money into them. I suppressed a chuckle, remembering all of the discussions about that on the forum, but I guess I will be doing a OTK with the Cambria Torquay on it as one of the main displays. I live in a flyover state, and it'll take 10 years before that trend ever cools down here. That's as close to "timeless" as I'm going to tread though. I figure that I have to do a builder grade oak display, just to satisfy that contractor segment, but nothing says it has to be honey oak or arched panels. I'll take it darker and browner, and choose a light laminate from the 180FX line for the counters. Nothing says that builder's can't give their customers a little style with their inexpensive oak cabinets! :)

If anyone else wants to contribute ideas, I'd love to hear them! I do appreciate every single one that's been suggested. Right now, the place is a complete blank slate and the contractors are due in on Wednesday to get started making dust. So, I'm actually doing about 8 different "kitchen remodels" all at once! LOL! I'm sure that even KD's and showrooms will not find the construction process smooth sailing with no bumps! :) We're not set to have the grand opening until next year, but I'm thinking of doing a blog to share the transformation so that it's documented, and to show off the cabinets to potential customers. My first "official" day is tomorrow, and my 20/20 computer isn't even there yet. I'm sort of the "5th wheel" in everyone's way until my office gets it will be a lot of "fun" right from the beginning!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:23AM
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What I wish were available for door stain/paint samples were the drawer fronts. Without seeing the 2 piece package I can't tell if the drawer front is plain or trimmed or which way the grain runs.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:52AM
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Re: the progressive display- I ended up with mini bases, partly by accident but let's us show 2 sides each cabinet, some brands have deals on em so better for budget
I can take em with me or drag em to client meeting area if need be. Currently have a couple stacked 2 high, saves space. And since they are moved around they don't end up storing stuff.just a thought.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:54PM
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